Major breakthroughs in building methods donâ€™t come around very often. Some world-changing examples include the Great Pyramids of Giza, Franceâ€™s Pont Du Gard aqueduct, Le Corbusierâ€™s floating-slab design, and the Hoover Dam. Through centuries of design innovation, concrete has been a stalwart material for human-made structures. But old formulations and methods are evolving, as new technologies such as 3D printing and artificial intelligence (AI) promise to make concrete lighter, more durable, andâ€”perhaps most importantâ€”more sustainable.
Structural engineer Marcos Silveira and his team are spearheading a project called Hone Structures, which they hope will help advance sustainable concrete construction techniques. Hone Structures is applying generative design to reinforced concrete structuresâ€”starting with proof-of-concept concrete deep beamsâ€”to explore material savings and other potential benefits of the process.
Midway through his PhD at the University of SÃ£o Paulo and the University of Windsor, Canada (under the supervision of Dr. Sreekanta Das at the University of Windsor and Dr. LuÃs Bitencourt at the University of SÃ£o Paulo), Silveira and his teammate Gabriela Vivan attended the Generative Design for AEC Intensive Residency at the Autodesk Technology Centre in Toronto to develop concepts, then worked with robotics experts in Boston to build reinforced concrete and learn about 3D printing. Silveira says the projectâ€”a â€œliving, breathing applicationâ€ of his PhD thesisâ€”â€œaims to reshape the design and construction process for reinforced concrete structuresâ€ using generative design, AI, and robotics.
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